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Consider I have a few references from white to yellowish, and I look at them in 2 different lights: a cool-coloured light (white/~6500k) and a warm-coloured light (yellow/~3500k). Firstly, intuitively, I thought that I will perceive the whiter ones to be yellower in yellow light, but I don't -- in fact, it's the opposite: I see the yellower ones whiter in yellow light.

What does it mean? Does it mean that the colour constancy mechanisms of humans notices there's a yellow light and tries to adjust the brain such that I perceive yellowish stuff as white? If so, how come the ones that are intrinsically yellowish are still perceived as white? Does the colour constancy mechanism overestimates how much to correct?

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Color constancy works only if the incident illumination contains a range of wavelengths. The different cone cells of the eye register different but overlapping ranges of wavelengths of the light reflected by every object in the scene. From this information, the visual system attempts to determine the approximate composition of the illuminating light. This illumination is then discounted in order to obtain the object's "true color" or reflectance: the wavelengths of light the object reflects. This reflectance then largely determines the perceived color.

Source

It is also known that the color constancy of humans is subject to individual differences. The perception of painters like Claude Monet but also landscape photographs illustrate that attention and learning processes play a role while performing color constancy.

Anya Hurlbert: Colour vision: Is colour constancy real? Curr Biol. 9(15): 1999: R558-561, Review Article

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